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Self-Harm

As a parent it can be very frightening to discover that your young person has harmed themselves on purpose. There are two main reasons that young people self-harm. As a way to manage strong and overwhelming emotions or as a way of reconnecting with life or their body. Many young people want to protect their family or friends from their feelings, self-harm can be habit forming and a way for the young person to cope.

Self-harm can take many forms and is usually something which is private and secret for the young person:

• Cutting
• Burning, including with lighters or aerosol cans
• Punching or hitting themselves
• Poisoning
• Excessive exercise
• Overeating or starving themselves.

If at any point you are worried that your young person has done something to seriously harm themselves then call either 111 or 999.

  • What to look out for in your young person?
    • Unexplained bruises, cuts or burns often on the inside of wrists, arms, tops of thighs or chest
    • Keeping covered up regardless of the weather
    • Signs of low mood, such as tearfulness, lack of interest in normal hobbies and activities, and not seeing friends as much
    • Talking about not being good enough
    • Changes in their weight
    • Becoming more secretive and withdrawn from family and friends
    • Beginning to use or misuse drugs or alcohol.

  • •Seek medical attention if you are worried that they have seriously harmed themselves - this may mean calling 111 or 999

    • Keep calm. Try not to respond emotionally or angrily towards the young person

    • Provide space and time to enable the young person to feel able to share with you if they want to, when they want to

    • Remember that they are still the same young person who you know and love

    • Don’t ask for promises that they won’t do it again or forbid them from doing it again 

    • Make sure that they see their doctor for further assessment. It might help to go with them, but they may need to see the doctor on their own

    • Look after your own emotional wellbeing. Recovery from self-harming behaviours can be a long process for the young person. They need to discover new ways to manage their emotion.

  • Reading Well for young people

    Books about mental health for 13 to 18 year olds, with advice and information about issues like anxiety, stress and OCD, bullying and exams.

    All Shelf Help books can be reserved for free from any Norfolk library, or online by clicking here. The books are available to borrow for up to six weeks.

  •  

    Health Uncovered is a series of podcasts that aims to get young people in-tune with their health and wellbeing. The series is hosted by BBC Radio One presenter Cel Spellman and features young people and health professionals from our Norfolk Healthy Child Programme.

    Life isn't always easy - and young people across the country have been helping us explore the issues that they’re facing today. From online bullying to sexual health, body image to mental health. They've been asking the questions you want to hear answered, joined by the health professionals that help young people, like school nurses and mental health specialists, to provide solutions, support and understanding.

    Our service and young people have been particularly involved with episode 3 “me and my emotions” and episode 4 “are you ready?”

    Listen now!  The podcasts are free and you can listen via mobile devices, tablets and laptops.  Just search “Health Uncovered” in your favourite podcast app, like iTunes.

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

It may also be helpful to speak to the young person’s head of year or a teacher with pastoral responsibility so they can offer further support in school.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum. CLICK HERE

Just One Norfolk Community Forum

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